Below the Fold

The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

The Alarming Rise in Verbal and Physical Threats to the Press

Many presidents have had contentious relationships with the press. President John Adams’ 1798 Sedition Act made publishing anything critical of the government illegal, President Theodore Roosevelt tried to sue the press for unfavorable coverage and other leaders have tried to control the flow of information. However, the animosity towards the press fostered by President Donald Trump many believe is unprecedented.

February 15, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, Threats
Discrimination or Free Speech? What’s At Stake in the Wedding Cake Conflict

Discrimination or Free Speech? What’s At Stake in the Wedding Cake Conflict

Jack C. Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakeland, Colorado, refused to design and create a wedding cake for a celebration of a same-sex marriage. He claims that creation of the cake is artistic expression protected by the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise of religion clause. But the same-sex couple and Colorado argue that Phillips’ work on the cake is not expressive conduct according to the law and that the state has a significant interest in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation. What will the Supreme Court say when it hears the case?

February 9, 2018 Artistic Speech, Below the Fold, Speech
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: Protect Journalists With The Same Laws That Protect All Of Us

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint. ___________________________________________________________________ I understand the motivation behind the just-proposed Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to attack those involved in reporting the news. The legislation comes at a time of particularly vocal attacks[Read More…]

February 9, 2018 Below the Fold, Threats
Colin Kaepernick warms up on the field.

Taking A Knee: Rally Outside of Superbowl Stadium

It started with Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. To protest what he saw as oppression of people of color, he refused to stand for the National Anthem before his NFL games. His symbolic expression of dissent spread to other players and continued into the 2017 season, exploding into fiery controversy when President Donald Trump urged the NFL and its owners to fire players who refused to honor the National Anthem. The practice of taking a knee even spread to high school football players. Does the First Amendment protect the players when they refuse to stand for the National Anthem? And how does taking a knee fit into America’s history of political protest? We provide historical perspective in From Liberty Tree to Taking a Knee: America’s Founding Era Sheds Light on the NFL Controversy.

February 1, 2018 Below the Fold, Speech, Symbolic Speech
Donald Trump’s Plans for Libel Laws

Donald Trump’s Plans for Libel Laws

What do President Trump’s plans to “Open Up” libel laws mean?

January 31, 2018 Below the Fold, Libel
A liberty tree with effigies.

From Liberty Tree to Taking a Knee: America’s Founding Era Sheds Light on the NFL Controversy

Symbolic speech as a form of protest, like taking a knee at a football game while others stand for the National Anthem, enjoys a long history in America. It’s been a powerful form of political expression going back to the protests in the colonies in the 1760s against British oppression. Various forms of symbolic expression—liberty trees, liberty poles, effigies of hated politicians, even the use of the number 45—brought multitudes into the political sphere and was critical in building opposition to British rule. Much of this symbolic expression was controversial and even offensive but a powerful form of protest then and now.

January 25, 2018 Assembly, Below the Fold, Speech, Symbolic Speech
Lessons from Berkeley on Campus Free Speech

Lessons from Berkeley on Campus Free Speech

Free-speech watchdog FIRE’s mission is more important than ever on the nation’s college campuses.

January 25, 2018 Below the Fold, Campus Speech, Speech
Countering Fake News Networks

Countering Fake News Networks

Organizations are mounting efforts to stop the spread news, some to good effect.

January 23, 2018 Below the Fold, Fake News, Threats
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: ‘Weakening’ Libel Laws Is Not The Right Tactic – For Anyone

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint. ___________________________________________________________________ Making it easier to sue people for libel is not a good idea — for our democracy in general, and even for President Trump and a few of his personal lawyers, in particular. Trump[Read More…]

January 18, 2018 Below the Fold
President Trump, Other Elected Officials Block ‘Disliked’ Twitter Followers

President Trump, Other Elected Officials Block ‘Disliked’ Twitter Followers

Can public officials block followers on social media platforms because they don’t like what they are hearing?

December 18, 2017 Access, Below the Fold, News Gathering